After more than twenty-five years we went back to London
We decided to visit what we had not seen in the past and to do pleasant walks in the city center.
We chose to stay at the IBIS hotel because we appreciate its quality/price ratio.
In London we stayed at the IBIS close to the Euston subway station.
Somerset House and Art collection of the Courtauld Institute of Art
The first day, early in the morning, we went to the Somerset House, a building with a beautiful and big inner courtyard recently embellished with a modern fountain and where, at the entrance, there is an allegorical monument.
I illustrate the art collection of the Courtauld Institute of Art. I wish to mention some of the most significant painters: Monet, Gauguin, Modigliani, Picasso, Utrillo to Kandinsky.
Some rooms of the picture-gallery are reserved to an exhibition of works that Toulouse Lautrec dedicated to the dancer Jane Avril, his favorite model.
Cleopatra’s Needle, Hungerford bridge, Charing Cross station and Waterloo Bridge
Just outside the Institute, there is the pretty little church of St. Mary-le-Strand positioned in a pedestrian zone, in the middle of the road.
We continued towards the river Thames and reached the Cleopatra’s Needle, an Egyptian obelisk with two sphinxes at its sides.
We passed the river Thames crossing the pedestrian Hungerford bridge situated in front of Charing Cross Station.
We were not even at half way that we admired another bridge, Waterloo Bridge, beyond which we could see both St. Paul Cathedral and the skyscrapers of the City; among them it stood the Nat West Tower, known as the Gherkin (the Cucumber).
British Air London Eye
A big news for us was the British Airways London Eye, the giant (135 meters high) Ferries wheel built to celebrate the new millennium.
Laurence Oliver monument, Blackfriars bridge, Tate Modern and Cannon Street Bridge
We could admire the Queen’s Hall, the Royal Festival Hall, the monument to Laurence Oliver and the Blackfriars bridge (famous because there it was found Roberto Calvi’s body).
Following the Thames, we arrived to Gabriel’s Wharf Market, a square faced by many characteristic shops, an exhibition of wooden works and quaint houses whose walls were painted with faux illusionistic façades.
Continuing our walk along the river, now called the Riverside Walk, we arrived in the Bankside area. There, a building which was a former power station was transformed into a new building: the Tate Modern Gallery. The museum opened in 2000 and gathers six detached sections.
Opposite, there is another new monument: the steel pedestrian bridge, also built in 2000, which gave me the possibility to take nice shots.
Some more nice shots were taken southwards showing the Cannon Street Bridge, a railway bridge which looks “younger” than its age (1860) and is characterized by vivid colours; beyond it, the London Bridge appears in its majesty.
Globe Theater where William Shakespeare’s company performed
Not far, there is the white circular building of the Globe theatre where the company of William Shakespeare used to perform. The theatre had a very rough life: it was built in 1600, was destroyed by a fire, was rebuilt and, then, was closed and definitively demolished 44 years after its primary construction.
Anchor Pub, Golden Hinde Galleon of Sir Francis Drake, Southwark cathedral and Borough Market
Other nice glimpse is that of the Anchor Pub, one of the oldest and most famous pub along the river.
A little further on, in a narrow angle, the copy of the Golden Hind galleon used by Sir Francis Drake to circumnavigate the globe.
Southwark Cathedral dates back to the twelfth century and had been recently restored. It is the most important monument of Southwark district of London.
In that district we found other remarkable peculiarities such as the George Inn, a characteristic inn of the seventeenth century which nowadays is a pub. Another recent transformation regarded the Borough Market which changed by wholesale market of fruits and vegetables to retail market even specialized in international food. Finally, a memorial plaque on the site of the original Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
Piccadilly Circus, Coventry Street, Trocadero and Leicester Square
At the end of our first full day in London, we had the pleasure of one more promenade. We went to Piccadilly Circus with its famous monument of Eros and its characteristic and countless bright signs. Similar signs are present also in the near Coventry Street where there is one of the “cult” place in London, the Trocadero. We concluded our walk in Leicester Square where important works in the course of construction prevented us from admiring the square in all its beauty.
Wellington Arch, Apsley House and Wellington’s caricatures
The second day began with a typical autumnal weather and rain. I took a shot of the Wellington Arch and its Quadriga led by the angel of Peace while fighting with my umbrella. We found shelter inside the Apsley House where Wellington decided to place, among many other relics, a large marble statue of his great enemy at the foot of a staircase almost as a sign of submission. Napoleon was immortalized by Antonio Canova.
Then we moved to a completely different part of London in order to visit the Soane’s Museum. This museum has a peculiarity: in a very small space, thanks to special devices, Soane collected and exhibited an extraordinary number of works of art. The picture-gallery is the most striking room because in a very small space you can see a large number of paintings gathered in large panels which you can extract.
Queen Elizabeth II’s Gallery at Buckingam Palace
Buckingam Palace and St James park
I think much more interesting the photo-gallery dedicated to Buckingham Palace.
Here we have an example of the exceptional peculiarity of London. Leaving behind Buckingham Palace, you immediately enter the park, in a moment you leave the chaotic city traffic and find peace in the park. Silence, flowers, animals in the wild.
The Churchill War Room is a museum divided in two parts: the historical part with the faithful reconstruction of the rooms used for the War Cabinet’s strategic meetings and the modern (and multimedial) part where you can watch original historic filmed sequences.
Dowing Street, Horse Guards, Trafalgar Square, Lord Nelson column and Oxford Circus
We took Whitehall road towards Trafalgar Square. The first street on the left is Downing Street; we remembered it was a road open to the public but it was cordoned off and inaccessible.
It is quite moving, for its meaning, the monument dedicated to the women died during World War II.
For the tourists it is very popular the Horse Guards, the building where you can assist to the change of the guard. Unfortunately, when we passed, there was only the guard present, and not the horse.
Finally we reached Trafalgar Square; the square where most extravagant gatherings can be found. I took several pictures: the column erected in memory of Lord Nelson, statues of lions and large fountains, the clock marking the time left before 2012 Olympics, the National Gallery entrance, and more.
Another nice walk, in the heart of London, is the one which brings from Trafalgar Square to Oxford Circus.
First we walked along Cambridge Circus, then crossed a part of Soho neighborhood, reached Oxford Street and arrived to Oxford Circus.
Speaker Corner and Wallace Collection
We started our third day in London arriving, under the pouring rain, at the Speakers’ Corner. Because of the hour (it was 9.00 am) nobody was making speeches so we just took pictures of ourselves.
We took shelter in the nearby Wallace Collection; the visit allowed us to see a variety of works of art, all of rare beauty, that I widely present to my readers.
Kensington Palace and Kensington Roof Gardens
Il tempo atmosferico è migliorato il che ci permette di ammirare appieno le bellezze floreali antistanti il Kensington Palace. L’interno illustra scene di vita dei reali e si conclude con l’esposizione degli abiti da sposa delle nuore reali, Principessa Diana compresa.
Few people know the Kensington Roof Gardens, beautiful roof gardens (covering 6.000 square meters.) located on top of the warehouse Derry & Toms. It is beautiful and scenic the reconstruction of a Spanish garden, less interesting the one of an English one.
Harrods department store (remembering Diana and Dody)
Quite closed there is the famous Harrods department store which I widely illustrate for the beauty of its interior (an Egyptian reconstruction, a fish exhibition, etc..).
It is memorable Diana and Dody’s picture, the latter was the son of the Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed, owner of Harrods.
Victoria & Albert Museum
We had not planned the visit (and, in fact, we didn’t do it), but we entered the Victoria & Albert Museum because we needed a shelter from the rain. This is why I can represent the museum, even if only marginally.
Royal Albert Hall and Albert Memorial
Not far there is the Royal Albert Hall, a building that I want to represent showing “the Triumph of Arts and Sciences”. Opposite, we could admire the Albert Memorial that Queen Victoria commissioned in memory of her husband who prematurely died when he was only 41 years old, leaving nine orphans.
Big Ben and the equestrian statue dedicated to Queen Boudicca
We began our fourth day from Westminster Pier. We were going to take a boat that would bring us to Greenwich. Before leaving I wanted to show the Big Ben and the equestrian statue erected in memory of Queen Boudicca, who imposingly stands with the big wheel behind.
Monuments along Thames river
I divided into three photo-galleries the fluvial journey towards Greenwich. In the first part I took pictures of monuments that I had already presented one by one but that I could admire from the perspective given by the navigation on the Thames river. We started from the aquarium, admired a series of modern buildings and passed the Belfast cruiser, famous for having participated in the Normandy landings.
Fish market (Billings Gate), Tower Bridge and Tower of London, The Shard skyscraper by Renzo Piano
We passed near other beautiful buildings until we reached the palace which hosts the fish market (Billings Gate) and the Tower Bridge with the Tower of London. Not far we could see the modern City Hall and, behind it, the still unfinished skyscraper The Shard, designed by Renzo Piano.
Docks converted into houses, modern settlements on Dogs Isle and Canary Wharf district
Proceeding, we initially met many inhabited units obtained by converting original docks (harbour warehouses facing the Thames), continued with the modern urban settlements located on the Isle of Dogs and ended with the futuristic Canary Wharf district.
Greenwich Observatory, Cutty Sark, Queen’s House and pedestrian tunnel under the Thames
Once in Greenwich we immediately went to visit the Royal Observatory built on the point where the prime meridian passes; it is the meridian that divides our planet between east and west. Some important maintenance works prevented us from visiting the Cutty Sark, the clipper which won the race between London and China in 1871. We visited the Queen’s House and the Old Naval Base. We left Greenwich along the pedestrian tunnel that crosses the Thames underwater.
Victoria Place and Westminster Cathedral
After a long underground transfer, we arrived at Victoria Place which I represent showing some of its peculiarities, including the homonymous train station that connects London to Europe. Then we visited the Westminster Cathedral, the largest Catholic church in the UK, with a magnificent interior.
Buckingam Palace (square and fences), St.James Palace, Burlington Arcade, Piccadilly and Eros by Alfred Gilbert
We went again to Buckingham Palace; I could only document its front square and the beautiful decorated fences. We also visited the palace but the use of the camera was forbidden.
We walked the short route which passes near St. James ‘ Palace, the Burlington Arcade and the Fortnum & Mason store (see below) and led us to Piccadilly where we could admire the beautiful Eros by Alfred Gilbert.
Fortnum & Mason department store and multi-ethnic district of China Cina Town
We could not help a visit to Fortnum & Mason where, in the past, we made numerous (and expensive) purchases . This time, though with difficulty, we did not buy anything. We concluded the day along new roads of the multi-ethnic district of China Town.
On Sunday morning we took the opportunity to visit Camden Market. It was born from the merger of six market, is open every day and you can buy everything . It is beautiful the part along the Regent’s Canal and the part inside Victorian-style buildings.
Covent Garden Market, James Street and Neil Street
We went back to the city center to visit the covered market in Covent Garden. Inside a myriad of small shops selling a little of everything while in the square there were many street entertainers performing a various activities.
Quite close, two roads, James Street and Neil Street, offer a rich range of shops selling the most varied and curious things.
Carnaby Street and St.James Park
We could not miss a walk in Carnaby Street, the “cult” street of the young people in the 1960s. Nowadays it is no longer at its best . The warm sun and the festive day brought us back to St. James Park. There were many Londoners lying on the grass in the sun listening to good music.
The Parliament with the equestrian statue of Richard the First, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey
I show Westminster Abbey only from outside with particular attention to the frontal towers and other details.
Caribbean carnival in Notting Hill
Being August, we were so lucky to be present at the biggest carnival in Europe: the Caribbean carnival in Notting Hill. I would like to underline how the shopkeepers tried to protect themselves from the participants’ exuberance… I leave the pictures to tell this story.
St. Paul’s Cathedral, The Monument, Bank of England, Royal Exchange, Leaden Market, Staple Inn and St.Etheldreda
I can show St. Paul’s Cathedral only from the outside since it is forbidden to take pictures from the inside. “The Monument” is the name given to the column erected to commemorate the Fire of London in 1666.
Nearby there are two other monuments of the City: the Bank of England and the Royal Exchange. Leaden Market is the characteristic covered market where they sell almost all possible food; the market is very popular with Londoners especially over the Christmas period and with employees of the City at mealtimes .
Staple Inn is the name of a half-timbered house, the only one remained in central London which dates back to 1586. Nearby we met the beautiful chapel of St.Etheldreda, along with other typical buildings, the most beautiful is the red building of the Prudential Assurance.
Smithfield Market and Church of St. Bartholomew the Great
Because of the holiday we could not visit its interior, but the Smithfield Market, the meat wholesale market, still shows intact its Victorian architectural beauty. The Church of St. Bartholomew the Great is the oldest religious building in London (1123) and has two entrances: the main one is under an arch of a half-timbered house, the secondary one is in a narrow street . The interior is very impressive and mystical, with arcs of Norman age.
Waterloo Station, Fitzroy square, British Library and San Pancras
Waterloo Station had recently been enlarged and renovated in order to receive trains arriving from the tunnel crossing the English Channel; this mean of transport is chosen by an increasing number of users. I also show the multi-level parking for bikes and the large number of available bicycles for the Bike Sharing service. We began to cross our last London area starting from Fitzroy Square, famous for having offered hospitality, in some of the houses that face it, many famous people (eg G.B. Shaw and Virginia Wolf) . A short distance away there is a nice museum, the Museum of Toys . Not far, there is the British Library which opened in 1997 after more than twenty years of work . You can enter St. Pancras railway station through a huge, eye-catching and elegant red-brick building; a building which, after various different utilizations, had recently returned to host a luxury hotel.